FREE SCHOOL SUP­PORT­ERS’ NEW BID

The Jewish Chronicle - - FRONT PAGE - BY SI­MON ROCKER

A FRESH bid has been launched to open a new sec­ondary Jewish free school in or­der to en­sure enough places for chil­dren in north-west Lon­don.

Barkai Col­lege and Ka­vanah Col­lege — the two groups whose plans for a free school were re­jected last year by the Depart­ment for Ed­u­ca­tion — have now joined forces, with the in­ten­tion of sub­mit­ting an ap­pli­ca­tion for a “New Jewish High School” next month.

The school would be mod­ern Ortho­dox in ethos, while in­clu­sive

“to all parts of the Jewish and wider com­mu­nity”, ac­cord­ing to a state­ment is­sued by the groups.

But their plans are going ahead de­spite the pref­er­ence of other or­gan­i­sa­tions for ex­pand­ing ex­ist­ing schools to cater for any in­crease in de­mand rather than found a new one. The new ap­pli­ca­tion is be­ing led by Maurice Ashke­nazi-Bakes, pre­vi­ously co-or­di­na­tor of Ka­vanah, and Eve Sacks, who chaired the Barkai team. Mr Ashke­nazi-Bakes said “we have been able to cre­ate to cre­ate a bid that is rep­re­sen­ta­tive of the Jewish com­mu­nity and that will suit the many hun­dreds of fam­i­lies who de­sire to give their chil­dren an out­stand­ing sec­u­lar and Jewish ed­u­ca­tion.” Eve Sacks said “we now have a strong team of ed­u­ca­tors over­see­ing and back­ing our ef­forts”.

They say they will seek a “main­stream Ortho­dox rab­binic au­thor­ity” to guide it. Whereas Ka­vanah had the sup­port of the Chief Rabbi, Barkai re­mained in­de­pen­dent.

A gov­ern­ment source has sug­gested the two pre­vi­ous bids were re­jected mainly be­cause the au­thor­i­ties did not want to ad­ju­di­cate which was bet­ter for the Jewish com­mu­nity.

But among the rea­sons both Ka­vanah and Barkai were given by the DfE was con­cern over the amount of time they planned to al­lo­cate to He­brew and Jewish stud­ies.

Ac­cord­ing to Part­ner­ships for Jewish Schools, ris­ing de­mand could see the need for as many as 135 ex­tra places in Jewish sec­ondary schools in fu­ture.

A spokesman for Chief Rabbi Ephraim Mirvis said his view “has al­ways been that one free school ap­pli­ca­tion is much bet­ter than two — if and when there is a need for a new school.

“His stated pref­er­ence re­mains for our ex­ist­ing schools to pro­vide the ad­di­tional places re­quired. Now that ex­ist­ing schools are work­ing to de­liver the nec­es­sary places, we trust this will re­solve the is­sue and it would also be the most re­spon­si­ble ap­proach for the com­mu­nity to adopt.”

Eve Sacks

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